Utah man says he made and delivered pizza to Michael Jordan, was Bulls fan

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Michael Jordan blamed food poisoning from tainted pizza for his illness during Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals, better known as the flu game. Jordan’s trainer, Tim Grover, has repeatedly said five guys suspiciously delivered the pizza. Jordan’s personal assistant, George Koehler, corroborated that story in “The Last Dance” documentary.

Craig Fite has a different account.

In a fascinating interview on 1280 The Zone, the Utah man said he made and delivered the pizza and even took extra care in making it – in part because he was a Bulls fan.

Fite said he was assistant manager at the Park City Pizza Hut when the restaurant received a delivery order for the hotel where the Bulls were staying. Fite said someone pieced together the order might be for someone with the team. That intrigued Fite, who said he was known around the restaurant as a Bulls fan among Jazz fans.

Fite:

I was like, “Hey, I will make the pizza.” And I remember saying this: “I will make the pizza, because I don’t want any of you doing anything to it.” And then I said, I told the driver, “You’re going to take me there. It’ll be my first delivery.”

That pizza was made well. I followed all the rules. Heck, I was – at the time, I was so busy trying to impress to become the store manager there, I followed all the rules.

I said, “Let me wash my hands. I’m going to make this pizza.” Because I wasn’t on the table. Then, after that, for months after that – I was working there still – everyone was like, “Whatever you do, don’t wash your hands. You’ll get someone sick.” It was kind of a running gag.

Fite said he prepared the large thin-crust extra-pepperoni pie then possessed it the entire time, including passing through security as he and the driver entered the hotel. He said they took the elevator to the Bulls’ floor.

Fite:

As soon as that door opened, it felt like you got punched in the face with cigar smoke.

Someone got excited seeing the pizza, Fite said. But when Fite informed the person of the room number for delivery, the inquirer backed off and said the pizza was for Jordan.

Fite said he knocked on the door, and “This great guy who’s been saying all this crap lately” cracked it open. The door opener (presumably Grover or Koehler) paid and tipped.

Fite:

“I’m handing him the pizza, and I said, “Hey, can I at least say hi to Mike?” Why not? It’s my one shot, right? And the door kind of opens up a little bit more. Mike is sitting in the room, sitting at the chair. He’s playing cards or whatever and raises his hand and says, “Thanks, man.” And then the guy looked at me and shut the door. And that’s the extent of the whole story.

Fite insists only he and the driver – two people – delivered the pizza. To give Grover and Koehler the benefit of the doubt, perhaps others passing in the hallway behind Fite and the driver stopped to get a peak of Jordan. Maybe Grover and Koehler mistook others for deliverymen.

Considering the store closed at 11 p.m., Fite said he delivered the pizza at about 10 or 10:30 p.m.

That’d poke another hole in the most sordid rumors – that Jordan flew to Las Vegas or partied late at Robert Redford’s chateau the night before Game 5. Sure, it’s possible Jordan was hungover the next day. But placing him in his hotel room at 10 or 10:30 reduces possibilities.

Which brings us back to food poisoning.

Fite:

Of course, when this whole thing happened, I got called by the district manager, “OK, if one guy got sick, how many others are we going to have to deal with?” And there were no other reports. Nobody else got sick. In fact, later on, a few years later, I had talked to a few people that had gotten pizza that night, too. And who knows much truth is in it? But they’re like, “No, it was fine.”

Ultimately, that’s the issue: “Who knows much truth is in it?” Everyone is sharing impossible-to-prove stories from many years ago. People can misremember or even fabricate.

What we know: Jordan looked ill, played great anyway and led the Bulls to a win then championship. However he got sick, it’s still an incredible accomplishment.

Michael Porter Jr.: Pray for both George Floyd’s family and police officers involved in ‘this evil’

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. and Knicks forward Maurice Harkless
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Several NBA players posted about George Floyd, a black man who died after being pinned to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer for about eight minutes.

Nuggets rookie Michael Porter Jr. struck a different tone than most.

Porter:

Knicks forward Maurice Harkless:

Harkless, whose dismay was shared by many, is a seasoned veteran. Porter has made made rookie gaffes.

But I’m uncomfortable criticizing someone for calling for prayer for anyone. For some, prayer can be effective way to cope amid tragedy. Many believe prayer can change the world.

Porter didn’t say prayer alone should be the solution. In fact, he called the situation “evil” and “murder,” seemingly suggesting the need for criminal justice, too.

Basketball Hall of Fame delays enshrining Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant and Spurs forward Tim Duncan
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The Basketball Hall of Fame originally planned to induct Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett in August.

But coronavirus interfered.

Jackie MacMullan of ESPN:

Jerry Colangelo, the chairman of the board of the governors for the Hall, told ESPN Wednesday that enshrinement ceremonies for the Class of 2020, one of the most star-studded lineups ever which includes Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and the late Kobe Bryant, will be moved to spring of 2021.

Colangelo stressed there will be separate ceremonies for the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021, even though both events will now be held in the calendar year 2021. “We won’t be combining them,” he said. “The Class of 2020 is a very special class and deserves its own celebration.”

I’m so glad each class will be honored separately. Bryant, Duncan, Garnett and the rest of this class – Tamika Catchings, Rudy Tomjanovich, Kim Mulkey, Barbara Stevens, Eddie Sutton and Patrick Baumann – deserve their own night.

So does Paul Pierce and whoever gets selected in the next class.

Life can end at any moment. Bryant’s death was a tragic reminder of that. But there’s no specific urgency here. The Hall of Fame should wait until it’s safe to hold a proper celebration of this class… then the next one.

NBA being sued for missed rent payments amid coronavirus shutdown

NBA Store
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The NBA has been sued by the owners of the building that houses the NBA Store, who say the league owes more than $1.2 million after not paying rent in April or May.

The league responded by saying it doesn’t believe the suit has merit, because it was forced to close the New York store due to the coronavirus pandemic.

NBA Media Ventures, LLC is required to pay $625,000 of its $7.5 million annual fee on the first day of each month under teams of its lease with 535-545 FEE LLC, according to the suit filed Tuesday in New York.

The NBA entered into the lease agreement for the property at 545 Fifth Ave. in November 2014.

Counting other fees such as water, the owners of the building are seeking more than $1.25 million.

“Like other retail stores on Fifth Avenue in New York City, the NBA Store was required to close as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Under those circumstances, we don’t believe these claims have any merit,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said. “We have attempted, and will continue to attempt, to work directly with our landlord to resolve this matter in a manner that is fair to all parties.”

The NBA suspended play on March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic and faces hundreds of millions of dollars in losses this season, even as it works toward trying to resume play in July.

NBA latest timeline has games starting in late July, early August in Orlando

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Anyone hoping for a rapid return of the NBA is going to be disappointed (and hasn’t been paying attention to how Adam Silver operates).

The NBA continues to carefully move toward a return to games, likely with 16 or more likely 20 teams in Orlando at the Walt Disney World resort complex. Expect players to report in mid-July with games now looking like they start late July to early August, allowing more time for the league to get medical and testing protocols and equipment in place. This according to multiple reports, including Shams Charania of The Athletic.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reiterated that timeline. While Adam Silver and the NBA owners will be on a conference call Friday, no hard-and-fast timeline decisions are expected at that point.

The format for the NBA’s return also is not yet set, but momentum has shifted in the past couple of weeks away from bringing all 30 teams into the Orlando bubble/campus to finish some portion of the regular season. That would be too many people and too much risk for too little reward.

Instead, the restart likely will have either 16 teams — going straight into the playoffs — or 20 teams, with a play-in tournament of some kind (maybe a World Cup soccer-style group phase). And, as Marc Stein of the New York Times notes (and he is not alone), there is a push to have the clumped 9-12 seeds in the West — Portland, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Sacramento — be the four additional teams brought in (along with the 16 playoff teams).

Teams who last in the playoffs past the first round could be in Orlando for months, which is why the NBA will allow family members to come to Orlando for the later rounds, report Wojnarowski and Ramona Shelburne at ESPN.

Conversations have centered on the timing of family arrivals at the Walt Disney Resort, which are likely to start once an initial wave of teams are eliminated and the number of people within the league’s bubble decreases, sources said.

Family members would be subjected to the same safety and testing protocols as everyone else living in the NBA’s biosphere, sources said.

Considering how long players on contending teams could be in Orlando — from mid-July until mid-to-late September, and maybe longer — allowing family to join them is the right thing to do.

NBA Commissioner Silver is trying to make a return as safe as he can and build as much consensus as he can, although he will not get anything absolute in either case. It’s in his nature to move cautiously, especially through uncharted waters like these. The NBA will have games again this summer, but earlier timelines have proved to be a bit optimistic.